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"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.
1. Go sky diving.
What's crazier than jumping out of a plane? (Although I'll probably try indoor skydiving first.)
2. Go cliff jumping/diving.
I must be the only Rhode Islander who hasn't gone to Jamestown and jumped off a cliff.
3. Ride in a hor air balloon.
Up, up and away.
4. Try out skiing.
Cash me in the next Olympics, how bout dat.
5. Try out snow boarding.
Shawn White, I'm coming for you.
6. Go bungee jumping.
Because at least this time I'll be attached to something.
7. Go to Portugal.
I mean I'm Portuguese so I have to go at some point, right?
8. Go to Cape Verde.
Once again, I'm Cape Verdean so I have to go.
9. Vist one of the seven wonders of the world.
I mean hey, Egypt's on, my bucket list.
10. Try out surfing.
It's only natural that somebody from the Ocean State knows how to surf.
11. Learn a new langauge.
Because my little bit of Portuguese, Spanish and Latin isn't cutting it anymore.
12. Travel to a state that I've never been to before.
Fun fact: I've only been to 17 of the 50 states.
13. Go paddle boarding.
Pretty boring but I've never done it.
14. Go scuba diving.
I'm from the Ocean State so I guess I should see the ocean up close and personal.
15. Learn how to line dance.
There's actually a barn in my state that does line dancing, so this one will definitely get crossed off.
16. Go kayaking.
All this water around me and I haven't done a lot of the water activites.
17. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room.
I bet if I got my friends to come with me, it would be like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody episode, minus the ghost coming out of the wall but you never know.
18. Get my palms read.
Because who doesn't want to know their future.
19. Go to a medium.
Like a medium that can communicate with people that have died.
20. Take a helicopter ride.
Air plane: check Helicopter:....
21. Sleep under the stars.
Because sleeping in a tent is more like glamping than camping
22. Just to try new things in my everyday life.
Whether it's trying a new restaurant, getting something different at my usual restaurants, changing my usual style, going on the scary rides at amusement parks, and bringing things I used to do back into my life now.
There is more than one side to every person. You meet someone and you see what they want you to see, nothing more. You might take guesses about who they are and what they've been through, but you will never really know the whole truth.
When you are curled up in bed or punching your steering wheel in some desolate parking lot and the world feels like it's crumbling around you as tears stream down your face, you tell yourself that you'll never judge someone again. You are convinced that you will always remember to think, first and foremost, that each person you meet has had moments just like that one, and you know nothing about it. You realize that it isn't fair to try and assume things about a person because there is a lot they are trying to hide from you.
And you do the same thing. You aren't open about your struggles. You bottle up all that pain and anger and you wait until you're alone to let it consume you. And you somehow convince yourself that you're alone in your struggles, as though no one else could possibly understand. You tell yourself that your situation is an anomaly and you are embarrassed by it. You couldn't possibly show the world the true nature of your life, because no one could relate to you, right? Wrong.
The reality is, your back-door personality is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone has things they are hiding. Everyone has struggles they don't want to own up to. So much of the stress we face each day stems from social anxiety – from the fear that our image won't hide the reality well enough.
Each of us wears a mask. It is a mask that we have worked to create since we were young, and each day we add something to it. Every morning we put it on, and no matter how we really feel, the mask is smiling for us. It is habit to wear it each day, a habit we will probably never break. The only time we take it off is when we are alone. And, even then, sometimes even we don't want to look in the mirror without it.
But the thing to remember is that everyone wears a mask, not just you. No matter how honest or comfortable people are with their true selves, they wear a mask in order to survive day-to-day. Exposing every part of yourself to everyone you meet would be too much, but never removing your mask is not enough.
You have to find people you trust and share with them the parts of yourself that you aren't proud of. Share the demons you constantly have to battle and the darknesses that plague you. And show them that they can do the same, because even if you don't share the same struggles, you can understand and empathize with them.
It is okay to not be okay. It is okay to have moments of darkness. It is okay to not want to talk about it. But it isn't okay to think you are alone. You are not alone. I will say this again. You are not alone. Everyone is fighting battles every day, and everyone is hiding it. Don't be ashamed to not be okay; you don't have to wear your mask every day. You don't always need to be okay. Stay strong.